George Washington, the guy on the quarter, could soon be facing the ax in San Francisco as surely as his fabled cherry tree.
The president of the San Francisco school board thinks it’s time to consider renaming schools that bear the names of slave owners — including Washington and his friends and fellow presidents Thomas Jefferson andJames Monroe.
Board President Matt Haney said Tuesday he will introduce a resolution before the board this month to clarify the rules for renaming San Francisco schools with an eye to encouraging the communities at Washington High School, along with Jefferson and Monroe elementary schools, to consider whether they want to make a change.
Another school that might want to think about a new name, Haney said, is Francis Scott Key Elementary School — which was named for the slave-owning lyricist of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“We need to have a conversation about this,” Haney said. “Especially at George Washington High School. We have school names in San Francisco that are not relevant or meaningful or inspire pride.”
Yes, Haney said, the name Washington — also shared by a state, the U.S. capital and a likeness on a dollar bill — might very well be such a name.
“I would not want to speak for the school community,” Haney said. “It’s a very tricky issue. I’m trying to stay away from condemning anyone. It was a very different time back then. But slavery was America’s original sin.”